What many people don't realize is that the studios have exclusive deals with these Premium networks. As a result, a movie that is on HBO will not appear on Starz or Showtime.
I'm sure there is a clearer way to do it, but... All information comes from Wikipedia:Showtime
As of 2010, Showtime holds first-run premium cable rights to films from Summit Entertainment, The Weinstein Company, Miramax Films (also including rights to Dimension Films releases), First Look Pictures, IFC Films (rights are shared with Starz), ThinkFilm and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Showtime holds sub-run rights to films from MGM, United Artists, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group.
Starz is known to air new hit movies and premiering a new movie every Saturday night on Starz Saturday Premiere. Starz and its fellow movie channels have exclusive film output deals with the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group (including Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, and Hollywood Pictures), Sony Pictures Entertainment (including Columbia Pictures [alongside films produced by Revolution Studios (2001–2007)], Sony Pictures Classics, Screen Gems, TriStar), Overture Films (also owned by Starz' parent, Liberty Media), Yari Film Group, and Warren Miller Films, among other leading distributors.
Starz also airs older titles from Time Warner subsidiaries (Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Turner Entertainment), 20th Century Fox, MGM, Miramax Films, and Universal Studios.
Usually films which Starz has pay-cable rights will also run on Encore and MoviePlex during its time of license.
As of 2010[update] HBO has exclusive deals with DreamWorks Animation, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, Rogue Pictures, Focus Features, and network sister-companies New Line Cinema and Warner Bros.
HBO also shows sub-runs (runs of films that have already received broadcast network/syndicated television releases) of theatrical films from Paramount Pictures (usually up until 1997), Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox (select films from all five studios are shared with Starz and Encore), MGM, and Lionsgate. HBO also has exclusive pay-cable rights to its own in-house theatrical films made through HBO Films.
Usually films which HBO has pay-cable rights will also run on Cinemax during its time of license.
The Movie Channel:
Cinemax (through HBO) currently has exclusive deals with sister company Warner Bros. (along with New Line Cinema), DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox. In addition, it holds partial pay-cable rights to movies produced by Universal Studios (along with Rogue Pictures and Focus Features). Films that HBO has pay-cable rights to air will also run on Cinemax during that time of license.
Cinemax had for some time continued to air films from the 1950s, '60s and '70s in the morning hours, but these movies for the most part have since been relegated to MoreMax and 5StarMax. Cinemax rarely airs family films during the morning hours, instead opting to air R or PG-13 rated films. Max also produces documentary programming under the banner Max Reel Life. Cinemax has also ran since 1993, an annual film festival called The Summer of 1000 Movies, in which the channel claims to run 1000 films (many with a similar subject) over the course of each summer.
The Movie Channel (through Showtime) currently has exclusive deals with major and smaller independent movie studios. After being acquired by Viacom in 1994, Paramount Pictures began an output deal with Showtime and The Movie Channel (then also owned by Viacom), effective after 1997. In addition to Paramount, The Movie Channel and Showtime have agreements with IFC Films (which shares pay-cable release rights with Starz) and THINKFilm among others. Paramount Pictures' contract with the channel expired for films released on and after January 1, 2008. United Artists and Lionsgate contract expired for titles released theatrically on January 1, 2009. The Movie Channel's rival Epix currently holds rights to films from Paramount and Lionsgate (along with films from United Artists) as Paramount's parent company (and The Movie Channel's former parent) Viacom and Lionsgate co-own the channel, which debuted in October 2009.
The Movie Channel also sometimes plays a lot of classic movies from United Artists and Columbia Pictures, and some movies from the mid-to-late 1990s released by Sony Pictures Classics (whose parent Sony Pictures Entertainment shares pay-cable release rights with Starz, except for films produced by Revolution Studios and HBO).
The window between a film's initial release in theatres and its initial screening on Showtime and The Movie Channel is much larger than on HBO and Starz. Usually films for which Showtime has rights will also run on The Movie Channel during its time of license.
Epix currently has exclusive deals with major and smaller independent movie studios. Films featured on the channel include recent releases from Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures (and their subsidiaries Paramount Vantage, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies), as well as titles from MGM (and its subsidiary United Artists) and Lionsgate (along with subsidiary Mandate Pictures). Prior to its launch, Epix also signed an exclusive first-run agreement with Samuel Goldwyn Films. The channel also signed an exclusive deal to carry 22 feature films from independent film studio Roadside Attractions.
The window between a film's initial release in theatres and its initial screening on Epix is stated to be slightly smaller than on HBO, Showtime and Starz, and will have a longer time of license than the other pay TV channels. Epix's movie schedule is similar to that of the main Encore channel, in that recent film releases are mixed in with older films from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and recently released films are often followed and/or preceded by older pre-1999 films in daytime and prime time slots.
The sad thing is that Showtime now probably has the worst film library, but are the best at respecting the OAR of films.
At this point, Showtime and HBO are probably equal in terms of original series, though HBO still probably has a leg up on original TV Movies, Miniseries, and "event" programming.
Starz has started their own original programming, but haven't reached the level of HBO and Showtime yet. Starz will be showing the next season of Torchwood, which is a very big "cult show" in the United States.